Just months after returning to the PGA Tour after a “hiatus” for a reported drugs/cocaine suspension, Dustin Johnson is tearing it up on the course and in position to win his first career major.
Johnson, 30, announced last summer that he was taking a leave of absence from the tour. That announcement came on July 31, days after he withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational.
There is conflicting information surrounding the nature of Johnson’s absence.
Johnson said in a statement that he was taking time away from the sport to sort out personal issues.
“I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced,” Johnson said in a statement. “By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion.”
However, Golf.com reported that Johnson was suspended six months for testing positive for cocaine. They say that was his third positive drug test; he also tested positive for marijuana in 2009 and cocaine in 2012. His personal life was under further scrutiny and there was even a report that he slept with another golfer’s wife.
Coincidentally, Johnson’s return to tour came at the Farmers Insurance Open on Feb. 8, almost exactly six months after he took his leave of absence.
While he was away from the game, Johnson played golf nearly every day at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., with the father of his girlfriend Paulina Gretky, Wayne Gretzky. He lived the settled down/family lifestyle and prepared for the birth of his first child. Paulina gave birth to their son on Jan. 20, just weeks before he returned to tour.
Prior to returning to the tour, Johnson did an interview with Golf.com and admitted to having alcohol problems but denied any cocaine issues. He seems to have cleaned up his act because he has played well since returning to tour.
Though he missed the cut at the Farmers Open, he tore up Pebble Beach and finished tied for fourth, and he followed that up by finishing tied for second at the Northern Trust Open. Then after missing the cut at his next tournament, he got his first win of the year — a victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He carried that momentum onto his next two events, both of which he finished tied for sixth, including at the Masters — his best ever finish there.
Johnson has always had the talent and is consistently among the longest players off the tee. He really had a good shot at winning the PGA Championship in 2010, so taking home his first major is long overdue.